Object in Focus

The Miniature Suit


Miniature Suit, V&A T.282 to B-1978. Image copyright of author








Prepared by: Corinne Thépaut-Cabasset, V&A

Read the full paper here.

This miniature suit consisting of a coat, a long-sleeved waistcoat, and breeches was probably made in France or England in the period 1750 to 1760. The coat and breeches are made of matching light green silk taffeta. The cuffs of the coat and the waistcoat fronts are of cream moiré silk, which has strips of silver thread woven through it. The coat is full-skirted and single-breasted. Following a new trend, the back pleats of the skirt are no longer buttoned. The cuffs are quite large and are decorated with three buttons along the top edge. The buttons on the coat cuffs, down the front of the coat and waistcoat, and on the legs of the breeches are made of silver yarn and are slightly tarnished. The coat is lined throughout with cream silk taffeta. The sleeves are lined with linen. The pockets are of canvas but the flap and part of the pocket are faced with cream silk taffeta, as are the insides of the cuffs. Each pocket, on each skirt front of both coat and waistcoat, has a three-pointed flap decorated with false button holes; three buttons are sewn near each pocket opening to coincide with each point of the pocket flap.

The waistcoat is single-breasted and collarless. The tapered sleeves are made of cream-coloured silk twill, with one button covered in silk taffeta at the wrist. The fronts and the pockets are lined with cream silk taffeta, whereas the back is made of cream-coloured silk twill. The sleeves and pockets are lined with glazed white linen. Breeches of knee length are lined with linen and cream coloured twilled silk. The fit is adjusted by a steel buckle and a strap either side of the vent.

This miniature suit is cut and constructed in exactly the same way as a full-sized adult suit. The suit is too small to fit a child’s body, which suggests that it was made half-size on purpose so that a tailor could demonstrate his skills and show the model to a client. A miniaturised suit would presumably have been easier to circulate than a full-sized model.

This miniature suit is made of sophisticated pale-coloured silk and resembles a man’s court ensemble. Much court attire was made of patterned silk velvet, embroidered silk taffeta, or appliqué embroideries on velvet or silk. The shape of the coat and the pattern of the sleeves, cuffs, and pockets can be compared to court outfits, or habit à la française, that are conserved at the Royal Armoury in Stockholm: a blue coat (or justaucorps) of Frederik I, dated circa 1748;[1] a red velvet costume of Adolf Fredrik, from the 1750s;[2] and Gustav III’s wedding suit ordered in Paris in 1766.[3] The pattern and construction of the miniature suit is comparable to Gustav III’s wedding suit.

[1] Stockholm, Royal Armoury, Livrustkammaren 31245-6.

[2] Stockholm, Royal Armoury, Livrustkammaren 21373-75.

[3] Stockholm, Royal Armoury, Livrustkammaren 31255-57.



Related material

Visual sources


Miniature suit, V&A T.282 to B-1978. Image copyright of author

Miniature suit, V&A T.282 to B-1978. Image copyright of author

Miniature Suit, V&A T.282 to B-1978. Image copyright of author

Miniature suit, V&A T.282 to B-1978. Image copyright of author

Miniature suit, V&A T.282 to B-1978. Image copyright of author

Miniature suit, V&A T.282 to B-1978. Image copyright of author

Male suit, c.1750, V&A T.329 to D-1985

Male suit, c.1750, V&A T.329 to D-1985

Gustav III’s French wedding suit, by tailor Le Sage (?), fabrics and embroidery supplied by Le Roux et de La Salle, Paris. Livrustkammaren, Stockholm, 31255-57




Matthew P. Davies and Ann Saunders, The History of the Merchant Taylors’ Company, 2004.
Garsault, Art du tailleur, contenant le tailleur d’habits d’hommes ; les culottes de peau ; le tailleur de corps de femmes & enfants ; la couturière ; & la marchande de modes, Paris, 1769.
Louis-Sébastien Mercier, Le Tableau de Paris, Amsterdam, 1781-88.
Lesley Ellis Miller, “Les matériaux du costume de cour”, Fastes de cour et cérémonies royales: Le costume de cour en Europe 1650-1815, Château de Versailles Exhibition catalogue, Paris: RMN, 2009, pp. 78-89.
Lena Rangström, Lions of Fashion. Male fashion of the 16th, 17th, 18th centuries, Livrustkammaren Stockholm, 2002.
Aileen Ribeiro, Dress in Eighteenth-century Europe 1715-1789, London, 1984.
Norah Waugh, The cut of men’s clothes, 1600-1900, London: Faber & Faber, 1964.


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